Calls made for more community engagement as parking woes continue around GCHQ
CALLS are being made for more community engagement as parking woes continue around GCHQ.
Residents complained about the number of cars parked around the government listening post, saying they were clogging up residential streets in Benhall, Hester's Way and Springbank.
Now Councillor Peter Jeffries (LD, Springbank) is calling for more communication between officials and the community.
His plea comes after 18 cars were targeted by vandals on Fiddlers Green Lane last week.
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Community leaders suggested the keying of the vehicles could be linked to residents' frustration at workers in nearby GCHQ using the street to park their cars for the day.
Councillor Jeffries said: "Parking always has been and always will be an issue in the area. There will always be difficulties because GCHQ workers are allowed to park on these streets, which causes some frustrations to residents.
"But there is concern that we are yet to see a GCHQ traffic and travel plan and I would like to see them coming forward with one. We definitely need some engagement and I don't think there have been enough negotiations between GCHQ, residents and councillors."
Following the attack on the cars on March 6, which was reported to police at 3pm that day, Councillor Simon Wheeler (LD, Hester's Way) said he had heard of similar incidents taking place in the area before.
He said that, if the attack was a parking-related protest, "vandalism was never the right way forward". Last month, approval was given for a 70-space car park near GCHQ, despite safety concerns in the community.
The privately owned park and walk facility on pasture land in Hester's Way was aimed at people working nearby and, according to the developer, Mr C Gifford, would ease problems with cars clogging up residential roads. Councillor Wheeler said he believed the parking situation could not be solved by the new car park.
He added: "They won't solve the problems because there are so many people looking for parking, but it will help."
A GCHQ spokesman said: "GCHQ is always keen to engage with the local community on a range of issues.
"We already have plans in place to provide further information to the local community, via the Hester's Way Partnership, on our recently announced green travel initiatives and how they support our corporate travel plan aim of limiting the impact of our organisation's travel choices on our neighbours by reducing our reliance on car transport.
"This is just one step in an ongoing programme of engagement with our neighbours near the GCHQ Benhall site."